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Case against Jefferson City clergy protesters moves forward

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Missouri Capitol Building in Jefferson City.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) – Prosecutors are moving forward with a case against 23 clergy members arrested after participating in a Missouri Senate protest.

A few dozen faith leaders sang and prayed outside before jury selected was set to begin Monday at Cole County Circuit Court. Arguments are expected Tuesday.

Authorities charged the clergy with obstructing government operations and first-degree trespassing after they and a few hundred others in 2014 protested lawmakers’ refusal to accept federal dollars to expand the state’s Medicaid program.

Protesters filled the Senate’s public galleries, chanted and sang before police arrested 23 clergy members.

Senate GOP leaders paused work for about an hour as Capitol Police cleared the galleries.

The case involves lawmakers in other ways. Missouri GOP House Rep. Jay Barnes is one of the attorneys representing protesters.